The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing - Henry Ford.
In 2021, I took more time to reflect on my failures. While doing my yearly review, I decided to pick 3 fuckups and share them with you. Maybe it can help you, avoid similar mistakes. And if not, may my naiveness at least make you laugh!
The MacBook that proved light as air
Earlier this year, I bought a used MacBook Air. I fucked up in nearly all possible ways and it taught me many lessons.
First, I bought it on eBay Kleinanzeigen from a nice guy who even gave me a discount as a student and I had a nice chat with him when picking it up. He quickly showed me that it was working (turned it on) and I blindly believed that everything would be good; that is what the description said and the guy was trustworthy! When at home, I quickly found out that the battery had a defect. I don’t think that the owner mischievously lied to me, because after some discussions he later generously agreed to give a discount or help with repair. But it was my responsibility to make a careful check (battery, display, keyboard, touchpad, internet, ports).
A few weeks later on a windy day, I went outside to study and opened it on a table. For one second I did not hold it and the next moment my beautiful MacBook Air flew through the air. It was a quick gust and after a few meters it crashed on the rough floor. I already expected the worst, but it was still fully working. Nevertheless, but it got some ugly scratches and deformations. How was I so mindless not putting one and one together on such a windy day?
This is not yet the end. Later, I decided to buy a cheap battery on eBay to replace it together with my dad. Paying Apple 140 Euros for the repair just seemed like a big rip-off to me! The replacement was quite fiddly and when connecting the new battery, the CPU suddenly got hot and it started smoking. My dad even got a slight burn. Now, the MacBook was completely dead. How could this have gone much worse?
The moral of the story is to be more averse of big risks. A big second-hand purchase should be carefully checked. People might not have bad intents, but I am responsible for everything that might be discovered afterwards. Secondly, it’s not worth to risk a big loss to save a few bucks because it might turn out much more expensive.
Missed chances during my Erasmus exchange
When coming to Barcelona, I was determined to avoid the international bubble. I had been seeing it during my stay in China and I largely avoided it, because I wanted the “China experience”. I’d say I succeeded because I tried to hang out with Chinese whenever possible, but nevertheless most of my friends were internationals. However, I somehow failed to transfer this observation to my next exchange. I took the wrong conclusion from the observation that it is easier to connect with Spanish people because we are culturally closer.
The first day I arrived on the campus in Barcelona, I ignored the compatriots behind my back that were getting to know each other. I ignored all Erasmus welcoming activities, because I wanted to make Spanish friends. And while I was disappointed to see that there was no canteen to talk to new faces during lunch, I still believed that there would be plenty of opportunities through uni associations, sports, classes, parties. As it turned out though, the activities at my uni were very counted (or I missed the secret channel ^^). Dancing was another prospect, but in the end I could count the total number of peers with my fingers. I also made a few intents approaching people on campus, but of course they mostly spoke Catalan. I did not expect it, but it made me feel a bit like an outsider. I guess it taught me that I would not want to live in a place whose local language I would not speak (or plan to learn). I regret not having participated at the welcoming events. I learnt that I need to seize opportunities in the moment, to not bet on later chances because they might not come. It was a missed chance with not much to lose.
Chasing rainbows or the Spanish drivers license
I didn’t take driving classes like all my friends at 17, because I didn’t want a car and thought there would come a better moment to do it abroad cheaply. Short disclaimer: that was a stupid thought. Last year,I was finally abroad and not so much loaded with uni and work. Besides it would be cheaper here in Spain - perfect timing. But my first mistake was not to inform well on the local circumstances. I knew I would need a NIE document and even checked the official website, but it just said no appointments available at the moment. I thought: “oh well COVID”, it will hopefully change when I am there and there will be a way.. After quite some effort to get an officer on the phone, I found out that this is the default display because the few new appointments are immediately snatched away. For weeks I tried to get an appointment by constantly refreshing the page, booked one in a far away city, but all in vain. It was hopeless. I finally got one through a bot from a dude on Github - that’s how insane the situation is. Paying the NIE fee was a whole different story.. Before, I went to many driving schools to ask for the required documents and all replied that I’d be fine with the NIE. Long story short, it was unrealistic to complete it in Barcelona and after finding a school in another city they found out that I’d need to proof 6 months of residency in Spain. After all the efforts, it failed on this.
Had I done my research early (to my defense, it was not pointed out on all websites) or contacted the authorities directly, I could have saved all this wasted time. My takeaway: Get the information early, before investing much effort. Otherwise you are irrationally inclined to pursue it no matter the cost. Secondly, get information either directly from the source (authorities) or google experiences from others. I received much misinformation from the driving schools and even banks..